Construction Group Finds Microsoft Solution Better for Business than Google Apps

Today we hear from United Kingdom-based VINCI PLC on why Microsoft was the best decision for their business in their move off Google Apps!


“When we looked at the size of our business and our plans for the future, we felt that Google Apps would be unmanageable for a business like ours that needs to react quickly to changes like acquisitions and sell-offs. Although Google may appear less expensive at first, it costs money to support and run it.”                           

                                                      --Tina Parfitt, Head of IT, VINCI PLC

With nearly 4,000 employees, VINCI PLC handles construction and facilities management projects in the public and private sector. The main operating company is VINCI Construction UK Limited, and the company had revenues of $1.69 billion.

IT Challenges
In September 2008, VINCI PLC acquired construction firm Taylor Woodrow, which had a longstanding relationship with its client list and had long-term facilities management contracts with many of its clients. At the time, VINCI PLC was using Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 for e-mail, with a Web mail option for home workers. Taylor Woodrow, however, had moved all its employees from Hewlett Packard OpenMail to Google Apps Premier Edition. Taylor Woodrow chose Google because it seemed to be an easy, inexpensive, manageable, stand-alone solution.

After the acquisition of Taylor Woodrow, the IT staff at VINCI PLC faced the task of migrating all 1,400 users to an e-mail environment that would be interoperable with its own Exchange Server–based solution. Although Taylor Woodrow had had some success with Google Apps, VINCI PLC was concerned about supporting this additional environment and concerned about the enterprise capabilities of Google Apps. “There were definitely some usability issues,” says Tina Parfitt, Head of IT at VINCI PLC. “Many of the things you normally expect to be able to do at an enterprise IT management level were not available with Google Apps—things like the ability to easily manage groups and users.”

Gmail also posed challenges to the way VINCI PLC staff normally use e-mail. VINCI PLC users need to send very large attachments, so that employees can transfer drawings, plans, blueprints, and other large files. Within VINCI PLC, the e-mail system had a 150-megabyte (MB) attachment limit, whereas Gmail had a 20-MB limit.

IT Solution & Benefits
In its evaluation of the platform to standardize on, VINCI PLC not only looked at the existing Google Apps deployment—and considered the possibility of moving all its users to Google—it looked at other solutions, due to the fact that while VINCI PLC was using Microsoft Exchange Server, The VINCI offices in France were using Lotus Notes, and VINCI PLC had previously used a Novell Groupwise system.

“When we looked at the size of our business and our plans for the future, we felt that Google Apps would be unmanageable for a business like ours that needs to react quickly to changes like acquisitions and sell-offs,” explains Parfitt. “And although Google may appear less expensive at first, it costs money to support and run it.”  Watch the video.

VINCI PLC made the decision to base the new VINCI Construction UK e-mail solution on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 in conjunction with Microsoft Outlook Web Access 2007. The first step in the migration process was to move all the existing Taylor Woodrow messages and calendars over to the new system. Given the lack of easy export tools in Google Apps, VINCI PLC chose to bring in a partner to help with the move. With assistance from Microsoft, VINCI PLC hired BitTitan, a software development company and Registered Member of the Microsoft Partner Program that specializes in helping clients implement solutions based on the Microsoft environment.

By choosing a robust and well-established messaging environment, VINCI PLC gained access to a wealth of easily accessed support and troubleshooting information. “If you've got an Exchange issue, you usually don't need to call a support line,” explains Parfitt. “So much information is already available on the Web, through Microsoft TechNet and other sites. I don't think we've had to call Microsoft more than three times in five years.”

By standardizing on Microsoft solutions for e-mail and calendaring, VINCI PLC has established a communications infrastructure that fits the company’s needs and goals. “It's about having something that we can easily manage and support internally with minimal training,” says Parfitt. “And standardizing on Microsoft tools makes it simple for us to adapt as the structure of the business changes. It means we can plan for the future without worrying about technical details.”

Read the full case study.

Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous says:

    @Ian: Vinci PLC chose BitTitan as their resource in migrating from Google Apps to Microsoft Exchange Server. Customers with questions about migrations might also enquire with Binary Tree or Migration Wiz. In addition, I encourage those evaluating or using Office 365 to reach out to the Office 365 community ( as their resource for specific migration questions.

  2. Ian Ray says:

    "Given the lack of easy export tools in Google Apps"

    This is misleading, especially considering the lack of Office 365 export capabilities. Google provides step-by-step instructions for migrating to/from most of their products.

    I've scripted several of these via the API for transfers between divisions. Migrating between entire systems should be no problem for any competent administrator. I would like to know why this is considered valid to talk about in a case study when the actual case is that Office 365 lacks any (let alone "easy") export tools which is a major reason why I could not consider using Office 365 after the beta period.

  3. Ian Ray says:

    Also, are there any export tools now or any plans for them? It may be beneficial for people to know about them.

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